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HOLIDAY SEASON

Will Christmas cure the COVID blues?

As we embark upon the holiday season, ALL ISRAEL NEWS wishes all of our readers Happy Thanksgiving and much joy as we finish out 2020!

COVID Christmas? A woman wearing a face mask passes Christmas trees outside a shop in central London. (Photo: PA/Reuters)

The year 2020 has most people around the globe down, if not outright depressed.

It’s not just that there are so many restrictions on travel and other leisure activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s also the fact that so many people are out of work, suffering financially, anxious to know what the future will hold, unable to be with children and grandchildren who live far away, and unable to host large gatherings with family and friends.

Many are unable, even, to worship at their churches or synagogues due to government restrictions.

And that is precisely why ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg decided he was going to combat this feeling — and start celebrating Christmas early.

“Let’s get out the decorations,” he told his wife Lynn in mid-November. “And let’s put up the tree!”

Rosenberg shared with his staff during our weekly meeting that Lynn was a bit skeptical until she discovered many other friends that same week who were planning the same thing.

The Rosenberg home in Jerusalem decked out early for Christmas 2020 (Photo: ALL ISRAEL NEWS)

Most Jewish followers of Jesus – in Israel at least – do not celebrate Christmas.

They celebrate Hanukkah.

The Rosenbergs celebrate both holidays.

While Rosenberg is Jewish on his father’s side, his mother is a Gentile. Born and raised in the U.S., and now living in Israel, Joel and Lynn and their families are all Evangelicals and grew up enjoying Christmas traditions to celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

It turns out, the Rosenbergs and their friends are not alone. Around the world people are overcoming the coronavirus blues by putting up their Christmas decorations early, playing holiday music and watching Christmas movies already.

While most people, at least in America, wait until after Thanksgiving to put up Christmas decorations, 2020 has called for a new approach to infuse life and lockdowns with joy and holiday cheer.

Accordingly, "it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas" around the world, already.

Texas

The city of San Antonio, led by Mayor Ron Nirenberg himself, was already lit up the River Walk with lights in a special and early holiday ceremony in early November. The traditional lights are usually not lit until after Thanksgiving.

Florida

Orland Sentinel political columnist wrote earlier this month that for “many years, I might roll my eyes at anyone busting out the mistletoe while jack-o'-lanterns are still on display.”

“But not this year. This year, I say: Bring it on,” Scott Maxwell wrote.

“Seriously, 2020 has been the year from hell. And after months of a pandemic, a wrecked economy and a presidential election straight out of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ I am ready to deck the freakin’ halls.”

He noted research out of Denmark that found people’s brains “reacted strongly — and happily — to images of Christmas.”

“Subjects would see pictures of twinkling lights or decorated storefronts, and suddenly they’d experience increased blood flow to their sensory motor cortex and parietal lobe,” he wrote.

The Midwest

KFVS in Cape Girardeau, Mo. reported that people across the Heartland are already putting up Christmas trees — many saying it was a way for them to “feel joy and reduce some mental stress as well.”

“To have things around your home and in your space, or that just bring you joy that are happy and beautiful; that may be bringing good memories and things like that, for me that’s vital,” Megan Goncher said.

In fact, mental health counselor Dr. Sharon Braun said putting up a Christmas tree can be therapeutic.

“If you are feeling down, I think it would give you a very therapeutic way to be one with yourself. It keeps you from getting caught up with the world’s nonsense.”

New York

Lani Savage, 39 from Long Island said she pulled out her decorations the day after Halloween.

“I’m going to be the only one on the block — and proud of it,” she said. “I always said, ‘How can anyone decorate before Thanksgiving?’ But now I don’t care. It’s a beautiful distraction and something to look forward to.”

Chelsea Surgan also began decorating on Nov. 1.

“Christmas is my favorite time of year,” she said. “I wanted all the positive feelings. I felt like we could all just use a little extra joy this year.”

Christmas is the event 75% of Americans say would be the hardest to spend away from family. The people surveyed say if all flights were canceled, they'd be willing to drive 11 hours to see family.

Nearly half say if another lockdown is imposed around the holidays, it won't stop them from breaking the rules and going to see family anyway.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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